Building for the Future
Dan Curcione, the Wall Township head coach, is as intense a coach as he was a player.
He played his high school football at Brick Memorial under head coach Jim Calabro and yours truly, as a quarterback and linebacker. He moved on to play four years at the University of Buffalo as a starting linebacker. His quarterback days were over once he moved on to college.
His intensity, however, did not change. Paying his assistant coaching dues at Toms River North and Wall, Dan was named head coach at Wall last summer ahead of numerous other candidates. It's a hiring that the Wall Board of Education will not regret.
One of the things I like about my job as a sideline reporter for the Shore Sports Network is I get the privilege of being up close and personal, to observe coaches during the heat of battle. Some are calm and collective, plotting from one play to another as the game evolves. Brick Memorial's Walt Currie, for one, is two plays ahead in his mind as the game is played. Some are so intense that you have the EMS on call close by, once the heart attack occurs. No example here, you know who you are.
When I coached football, I was in the latter category. Intense as a defensive coordinator, but under control most of the time, except for an occasional 15-yard penalty. I was allowed to scream at officials and players, but a head football coach must be in control at all times. That's why they have been given the responsibility of molding young men in a very demanding sport.
Curcione is one of these young, energetic head coaches who is moving in the right direction. His Wall football team won a very important Thanksgiving Day football game over Manasquan, 21-14, on a gray, overcast, cold morning at Vic Kubu Warrior Field. It was only the third win for his program this season, but it's a win that will make the off season so much more productive as he prepares for the 2015 season.
He has a quarterback in junior Matt Cluley that he can build around, and many underclassmen to go with Cluley. A young coach headed in the right direction. That's why I feel this program is in good shape.
Congrats must go out to Dahmiere Willis, the Long Branch senior running back who set the Shore Conference rushing record with his 295-yard effort in the Wave's 28-14 win over Red Bank. Willis finished his season with 2,589 yards to break Matt McLain's previous record of 2,544 set at Pinelands in 2010. Long Branch finished 8-3 on the year.
Middletown South had the problem of playing on Thanksgiving against arch rival Middletown North with a state final game coming up this weekend. They had to rally to beat North 20-13. They used a fake punt with 2:27 left to play, on their own 23-yard line, to keep the ball away from North and run out the rest of the clock. The Eagles play top-ranked Jackson Memorial at 7 p.m. on Saturday at Rutgers University in the Central Jersey Group IV final. We will broadcast that game live on 1160/1310 a.m. as the Eagles look for their 10th state championship.
Had a chance to attend the Shore-Rumson game on Wednesday night. If anyone remembers what the weather was like last Wednesday, it was a cold, driving rain storm that never let up. Shore won it 13-0, as both teams now move on to play for state championships this weekend, which can only happen in New Jersey. Play regular-season games after two rounds of playoffs, then play a championship game one week later.
Shore fullback Doug Goldsmith didn't seem to mind the conditions as he ran for 143 yards and two touchdowns in absolutely miserable conditions. Not one pass was completed on the night by either team. All-Shore running back Charlie Volker from Rumson was limited to minimal carries, as he nursed his ankle injury. Volker is expected to play this weekend in the state final against Delaware Valley. Special thanks to Shore superintendent Tom Farrell, principal Vinny Dallicardillo, and athletic director Harry Chebookjian for sheltering me during the halftime homecoming festivities. Give credit to those girls riding on golf carts around the track.
Join us Thursday night at a special time from 6-7 p.m. for the Investors Bank High School Football Show from Water Street Grill in Toms River. Our Jersey Mike's Game of the Week is Jackson Memorial-Middletown South from Rutgers for the Central Jersey Group IV championship. Our broadcast starts at 7 p.m. on NewsTalk Radio WOBM 1160 and 1310 AM and at ShoreSportsNetwork.com